TUSCALOOSA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Georgia finally left
Bryant-Denny Stadium with a victory, as well as its best start
in two decades.
Billy Bennett kicked a 32-yard field goal with 38 seconds left
as the sixth-ranked Bulldogs answered any questions about their
toughness in a 27-25 Southeastern Conference win over Alabama.
The Bulldogs have won their first five games for the first time
since 1982 - when Herschel Walker captured the Heisman Trophy -
and won at Tuscaloosa for the first time in eight tries.
Musa Smith carried 21 times for 126 yards and a score for the
Bulldogs (5-0, 2-0 SEC East), who improved to 6-0 in road games
under second-year coach Mark Richt despite squandering a
12-point lead in the fourth quarter.
"Well, let's face it, it was huge," Richt said. "Winning here
was big. I'm proud to be part of this victory."
Georgia appeared to be headed for another bitter defeat here
when Charlie Peprah returned an interception 35 yards for a
score to give the Crimson Tide (4-2, 1-1 SEC West) its first
lead at 25-24 with 9:24 left.
Greene threw a perfect pass into the hands of Fred Gibson, but
the receiver never had control of the ball and Peprah grabbed it
away and ran to the end zone.
Alabama had cut the lead to 24-19 less than a minute earlier
when freshman quarterback Brodie Croyle dove over a defender and
barely broke the plane of the end zone.
Earlier in the week, former Auburn coach and Georgia All-America
Pat Dye had said that the Bulldogs weren't "man enough" to beat
But the Bulldogs showed plenty of heart after Peprah's score. A
15-yard punt return by Damien Gary put the ball at the Alabama
34 and Georgia moved into position for Bennett as Smith carried
six straight times for 19 yards.
"We played a great game. I am glad the guys blocked," Bennett
said. "The snap was there. I didn't like to stand on the field
too long. The quicker you do it, the better it is."
Following the field goal, Thomas Davis picked off Croyle's pass
on the next play from scrimmage to seal the victory.
"We are man enough. We knew that," Georgia defensive end David
Pollack said. "We played responsible football."
Georgia seemed to be in control when Greene connected on a
37-yard TD pass to Terrence Edwards 88 seconds into the final
period, increasing the lead to 24-12.
Greene completed 15-of-27 passes for 224 yards with two TDs and
two interceptions. Edwards caught five passes for 73 yards.
"I can't tell you good it is," Greene said. "It feels like the
win in Knoxville (over Tennessee) last year. People counted us
out and we stuck together and won."
Alabama has been one of the game's notable surprises, putting
aside the effects of an NCAA probation to play inspired football
under coach Dennis Franchione.
"Our players played with a lot of heart and determination,"
Franchione said. "We never got into rhythm offensively. And
they kept us off balance with their great running game."
The Crimson Tide made the Bulldogs sweat, but were never able to
get their running game in gear. Shaud Williams and Santonio
Beard were held to 45 and 44 rushing yards, respectively.
Alabama also struggled with the kicking game as Brian Bostick
had a 28-yard field goal attempt blocked and missed from 36
Smith gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead with a 15-yard touchdown run
5:56 into the contest, capping an 82-yard drive that included a
pass interference penalty on the previous play.
Michael Ziifle kicked a 47-yard field goal late in the first
quarter to cut the lead to 7-3.
The Crimson Tide had a chance to make it a one-point game early
in the second quarter before Bostick had his 28-yard attempt
blocked by Pollack. He also became the first Alabama kicker to
miss an extra point since John Brock in 1996.
Georgia answered seven plays later as Greene threw a 42-yard
touchdown pass to Gibson to increase the lead to 14-3.
Alabama cut it to 14-9 on a 30-yard TD pass from Croyle to Dre
Fulgham, but Bostick missed the extra point, keeping it a
five-point game at halftime.
Croyle completed 16-of-29 passes for 197 yards.
"Too many missed opportunities," said Croyle. "We had our
chances and they had theirs. They took care of it at the end."
Bennett kicked a 43-yard field goal and Bostick connected from
36 yards in the third quarter.
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